On Monday the Palm Springs Unified School District Board voted 4 to 1 to approve a timeline for hybrid learning allowing students back in the classroom part time, but COVID-19 could alter those plans.
“Bringing students and staff back to campus in a hybrid setting really does depend on positive health data,” said Dr. Mike Swize, the assistant superintendent of educational services during his presentation to the board.
Starting January 11, 2021 students will alternate between the classroom and online.
“Students would attend in person either on Monday /Tuesday or Thursday/ Friday,” Swize said adding that Wednesdays will be online only, “that will also help facilitate a deeper level of cleaning between the a group of students on Monday / Tuesday and the Thursday / Friday students.”
The Palm Springs Teachers Association president Karen Johnson tells NBC Palm Springs she likes the plan they helped create, “Our teachers were in the focus groups that helped make some of these decisions, we’re working together to create a memorandum of understanding that we can have a safe return to sites.”
And there is a plan to allow teachers who cannot comeback because of COVID concerns to teach online because some families are also opting out, “We’ve got over 1200 teachers in our district, yeah there’s a portion that says, ‘I just can’t come back.'”
But she says most of the teachers feel safe with the changes the district is implementing, like barriers for teachers and students, social distancing and protective equipment and frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces.
“The district really is putting so much work into making sure that they’re keeping people safe,” says Johnson.
A student gave positive feedback before the vote, “I just want to commend them for planning such an intricate you know and complex system that’s definitely going to keep us safe if we have the opportunity to go back.”
Board member Timothy Wood was the only no vote, he voiced concerns about the county’s rising COVID numbers that indicate the virus is widespread and without the state’s reprieve earlier this week, the county would be in the most restrictive tier where in person learning is not allowed.
“And winter is coming and we know with winter it is going to get worse and we don’t have anything that stops this or prevents it,” said Wood right before the final vote.
Officials reiterated that if the county is placed in the more restrictive tier of the state’s reopening plan, the hybrid timeline would not be implemented but the smaller cohorts would be allowed.
“I just want to reassure you in no way would we rush that plan or would we put our students or our staff at any risk,” said Swize.